Johnson City, Tenn. (August 27, 2003) -
Members of the local media were on hand to visit with the East Tennessee State volleyball team during its annual media day Wednesday, as the Buccaneers were in Brooks Gym practicing for the start of the 2003 season.
ETSU will open play this weekend at the Virginia Tech Hokie Classic, where the Bucs will face Campbell on Friday, Aug. 29. Besides also seeing host Virginia Tech and Miami (Ohio) this weekend in Blacksburg, Va., the Buccaneers have a demanding non-conference schedule that includes such opponents as Indiana State, Valparaiso, Michigan, and Tennessee.
"The beginning of the season will be a good introduction for our freshmen to see what playing Division I volleyball is all about and what kind of competition is out there," said first-year head coach Lindsey Devine
. "We will be a better team when we walk off the court this weekend."
Devine, who has just three upperclassmen returning to the squad, including seniors Lissa Allen
(Palm Bay, Fla.) and Kate Steidle
(Waynesboro, Va.), will also have the task of molding the raw talent of a large recruiting class that consists of six freshmen.
"We have a young team, but we all have a lot to prove this year," said Allen, who thinks this year's group will rebound from a 2002 campaign that saw the Bucs finish with an 8-23 record overall and just 6-14 in the Southern Conference.
"I think we have a great group," added Devine. "They have already established themselves as a very disciplined team. We have a ‘no excuses' attitude and regardless of what happens we will be proud to represent ETSU on and off the court.
Specifically, the Buccaneers will also take pride in their team defense, which Devine sees a definite strength this season. With Allen's presence in the middle, the defensive prowess of junior Karen Freeburg
(Newcastle, Ind.), and the addition of some key contributors, ETSU is counting on surprising some people when the bullets start flying in a matter of a couple of days.
"We have a great defense, and I think that is the key in the SoCon," said Steidle. "We have returning players that know what's going on and can help the younger players out."
Coach Devine would not speculate as to where she thinks her team will be in the Southern Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, which is scheduled to be released by the league office on Thursday. However, she is looking forward to bringing back a certain level of dignity and respect to a team that is coming off its worst season in terms of wins and losses in 20 years.
"This team will be successful both on and off the court and will dig deep when faced with challenges," Devine said. "We are going to be optimistic and put forth our best effort, and at the same time remember there is an element of fun to all of this."
Live stats for this weekend's 2003 Hokie Classic will be available on the Internet by logging on to: http://www.hokiesports.com/volleyball/live/
. ETSU's match will Campbell will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29.